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Expand chart
Data: Annals of Internal Medicine; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The pandemic slashed U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years, with Black and Hispanic Americans losing more than twice as many years per capita compared to white Americans, according to research published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Why it matters: The data show that despite reports of older and more vulnerable populations assuming many of the deaths, young people with above-average life expectancies, including Black and Hispanic communities, were not spared.

  • "The COVID-19 pandemic has robbed Americans of 9 million birthdays that would otherwise have been celebrated," Hanke Heun-Johnson, one of the authors of the study tells Axios.
  • "Our results demonstrate that COVID-19 has not been a pandemic just for the old and the vulnerable, but also for younger and healthier groups," they added.

Details: The researchers calculated what life expectancy would have been for a sample of nationally represented Americans 25 years or older if the pandemic had never happened.

  • Years of life lost is another way to measure premature mortality, which weighs preventable deaths that occurred to younger people.

By the numbers: They found that on average, each person who died lost out on 12 years of life, and over a third of those who died would have otherwise lived a normal or better than normal life expectancy.

  • Of the 9 million years of life lost between March 2020 and March 2021, 4.7 million were for adults 25 to 64 years old.
  • The greatest toll among Black and Hispanic communities were men aged 65 years or older.

Context: In 2019, U.S. life expectancy due to cancer and cardiovascular disease deaths was cut by 15 million years, each.

The big picture: A data gap in the beginning of the pandemic led the public to underestimate the threat posed by the virus and oppose public health measures, the authors write.

Of note: The study analyzed COVID through the middle of March 2021 and since then the U.S. has experienced the Delta variant and surpassed 675,000 deaths on Monday.

  • It's likely the "burden of disease has shifted to a younger population as older Americans have generally embraced vaccination," Ashish Jha, of Brown University School of Public Health, wrote in a corresponding editorial Monday.
  • "Throughout the pandemic, some have asserted that the primary effect of COVID-19 is limited to older Americans, a view that is both cavalier in its treatment of those Americans and factually inaccurate," he added.

Go deeper

Updated 11 hours ago - Health

COVID cases and deaths keep falling

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

America’s coronavirus outbreak is rapidly improving as the Delta wave recedes, and vaccines for kids — which could become available within weeks — will help the situation improve even further.

By the numbers: Nationwide, the U.S. is now averaging about 79,000 new cases per day — a 22% drop over the past two weeks.

16 hours ago - Health

India crosses 1 billion COVID vaccinations milestone

A health worker inoculates a COVID-19 vaccine dose to a man wearing a face mask of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Beawar, India, in September. Photo: Sumit Saraswat/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Thursday that the country's health workers have now administered more than 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines doses.

Of note: While this is a significant milestone for the country of 1.4 billion, which has been devastated by the coronavirus, only about 30% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated against the virus, per AP. Roughly 75% have received at least one dose.

Oct 20, 2021 - Health

White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11

Charles Muro, 13, is inoculated at Hartford Healthcare's mass vaccination center at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Conn. Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Wednesday released its plan to vaccinate children between the ages of five and 11, pending authorization from the Food and Drug Administration of the first COVID-19 shot for that age group.

The big picture: The White House said it has secured enough vaccine supply to equip more than 25,000 pediatric and primary care offices, hundreds of school and community health clinics, as well as tens of thousands of pharmacies, to administer the shots.